Why that hate us? Because they’re incredibly stupid

Why that hate us? Because they’re incredibly stupid
: A poll in Germany reports:

Almost one in three Germans below the age of 30 believes the U.S. government may have sponsored the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, according to a poll published on Wednesday

And about 20 percent of Germans in all age groups hold this view, a survey of 1,000 people conducted for the weekly Die Zeit said.

Heiko Hebig (who finds this via the Agonist via Die Zeit) wonders what I’ll say about this. What can a sane person say: They’re nuts. Is the fault of German media that they’re so ill-informed? Is it the fault of German politicians that anti-American bigotry has reached such depths of idiocy? Is it the fault of German education that a third of the next generation is just so stupid?

  • balbulican

    I believe I recall an Associated Press poll that said that nearly 1 in four Americans believed that actual weapons of mass destruction had definitely been found in Iraq, and that 1 in six believed that Iraqis were among the Sept. 11th hijackers. So perhaps you should cut our German brethren some slack.

  • ignorance in action.

  • It’s worse than stupid.
    It’s soi-disant sophistication.

  • This looks like a case where some nuance is being lost in the translation. Here’s the German summary from the website of Die Zeit.
    ZEIT-Umfrage: Jeder Dritte vermutet hinter 11. September Regierungs-Verschw

  • Paul Stinchfield

    I believe that either Merde in France (http://merdeinfrance.blogspot.com) or the Dissident Frogman (http://www.thedissidentfrogman.com/dacha/index.html) reported that some French textbooks taught that the Cold War was merely an amoral power struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union for world domination. Maybe similar garbage has crept into the German schools. One or both have also commented on the problems of accurate news reporting on state-owned TV stations.
    Of course, what can you say about nations where the Green Party gets 20% of the popular vote?

  • What nuance is being lost? “Nearly one-third of Germans under 30 think it’s possible that the U.S. administration themselves had given the order for 9/11” is how I read that.
    Note that only 16% of West Germans think that overall, while it’s 29% in East Germany. That should tell you something right there.

  • If so, it’s also the fault of the American media and politicians that even-higher percentages of Americans apparently believe that the September Eleventh hijackers were a bunch of Iraqis and think that weapons of mass destruction have been discovered in Iraq.

  • Van Gale

    I agree with Lonewacko that East vs. West says a lot here. Also realize that quite a few E. German youth have moved west to find jobs and that might explain a big portion of that 16%.
    On the other hand, a good friend of mine teaches classes in a wealthy area of W. Germany (Freiburg in the Black Forest) and says that 100% of his current students believe the U.K. is not part of Europe and that the U.S. is “anti-Europe” because they believe Reagan and Thatcher were “anti-Europe”. Complete lack of knowledge concerning Reagan and Thatcher being the leaders who pushed for the unification of Germany over the objections of Mitterand.
    I personally wouldn’t blame the press because it shouldn’t be their job to educate. In this country (U.S.) I blame the educational system for similar problems, and ultimately that blame lies with the parents who are apathetic.

  • Do you think Bush ordered 9-11 or LIHOP? -NO
    Do you think it’s possible Bush ordered 9-11 or LIHOP? Yes. Allow me to explain. I’m not gonna ride the “in an infinite universe anything is possible” roler coaster to “what is truth?” relativism/constructivism here.
    But Bush is definitively despised by a substantial number of people over here, for various reasons, some of which are attributable to the media.
    We hear the 9-11 report is being stonewalled, we hear there was information available in intelligence circles warning of 9-11. And recently we hear Bush lied the US into the Iraq war. (oversimplified of course, but you have to realise that media coverage of US affairs rarely exceeds the equivalent of reading the NYT and WaPo summary – that is, if you read all of it. Even Der Spiegel rarely covers more than what is found in the most popular journals.)
    This plus the character judgement above makes it seem possible to people that Bush had something to do with 9-11.
    Myself, when asked “Do you really think it’s possible that Bush ordered 9-11 or LIHOP” I’d say No, since the possiblity is so remotely absurd as to be nonexistent. Which incidentally also shows that “do you think it’s possible” is a stupid wording. Together with the fact that we’re talking about foreign affairs here (as opposed to the US poll on Saddmas involvement in 9-11 or his use of WMD) I think that explains why the percentage is higher than the usual number of conspiracy nuts.

  • patirk s

    ohh please –
    you should ask 100 american teens where bagdad is, so I am very sure 99 dont have any idea at all
    greetings from sunny berlin
    (by the way : berlin is the capital in germany, big country in europe)

  • Myles

    I think you come across a bit racist sometimes Jeff. Most young Germans think America is cool but just don’t trust the Government. Face it, the American Government lies A LOT.

  • Governements and interest groups are usually made responsible for events they’re riding on to reach their targets.
    The hidden meaning of those answers to a provocative poll question is that US war on terrorism is perhaps not directed against terrorism. You should have noticed this, Jeff.

  • Sander

    From a relatively recent poll it seems that 60% of the world has an unfavorable opinion of the US, so it’s a little more widespread than plain, good old stupidity. Unless you want to call 60% of Germans stupid, which I as a dutchman, wouldn’t really mind ;)
    By the way, 20% means nothing, as 22 (or 26% depending on which poll) of Americans believe that Saddam has used WMD in the war. 42% believed most of the hijackers were Iraqi’s.
    PS Tee hee hee, A BBC poll named Canada’s own Homer Simpsons as the greatest American ever.

  • Reimer Behrends

    I do wonder what the answers to the same poll would be if asked here in the US, knowing that the idea had crossed at least some of my friends’ minds (even if discarded almost immediately as “no, that’d be just too silly”). And if a similar result would mean that the United States hold a strong anti-American sentiment.
    Food for thought.

  • The nuance lost in the translation is the difference between ‘believe to be true’ and ‘believe to be possible’. To me, it’s fairly clear that the ‘survey’ was worded in such a way to provoke an extreme response and to get a good headline.

  • c’mon jeff: when will you ever understand that distrusting your governement hasn’t got anything to do with hating you? many people all over the world (in your country, too) believe that your government lies the very moment they speak. and some people (again, even in your country) think it’s possible that your government would kill some of their own citizens to reach their goals.
    this poll shows deep distrust for the u.s. government. if you would have asked the same people what they think about american culture, music, movies, people etc., the result would very likely have been that they liked america quite a lot.
    by saying that this poll’s result shows how anti-american and dumb the germans are, you once again proof your hateful and racist attitude. after muslims and frenchmen, it’s now the germans. i’m sure “we” can live with the hate of an angry old man.

  • Soren Ryherd

    Man, people like to throw the word “racist” around.
    Saying “Germans who believe that the US gov’t would bomb its own citizens are dumb” is not a racist statement, or even anti-German. It is a response to a personal opinion.
    Saying “If x% of Germans believe that the US would bomb its own citizens, then all Germans are dumb as doorknobs” would be anti-German, but not racist.
    Saying “If x% of Germans believe that the US would bomb its own citizens, then all white europeans are likely to use kleenex for brains” is a racist statement. Get it. Race? Racist?

  • infamouse

    I think vasili is looking for something that ain’t there. Thinking that a German poll with some disturbing information about German attitudes toward the US and 911 as indicating a great deal of misinformation, lunacy and paranoia isn’t being racist. It seems everywhere has this problem. I wonder if the resolution could be improved communication in terms of the media. Anyway, I know quite a few people living in Europe right now who are really worried about Europe in the next 30 years. They think you’ve all gone crazy since 911.

  • i’m not eager on discussions about my/your/any/theoneandonly definition of “racist”. if the word disturbs you, please feel free to replace it with any word you find more suitable. that doesn’t make jeff’s statement less insulting.

  • Elvis on Mars

    20% got it wrong, the other 80% to. I did it. I live.

  • Soren Ryherd

    My point was that words *do* have meanings. That’s the point of words. You can’t just say, whatever, choose a word you like.
    If you say Jeff’s comments are racist, then spell out why you feel that way. But just hurling the racist molotov cocktail into the crowd because it is an inflammatory word doesn’t cut it. And I’m not debating finer shades of meaning, this is the basis of the word, its *entire* meaning.
    It bother’s me that people use racist inappropriately in the same way that calling the murder of ten people ‘genocide’ or calling Bush or Blair or Schroeder or Chirac a ‘dictator’ bothers me. The words are inflammatory, so they are used to inflame regardless of whether they are appropriate.

  • I think what’s happening into Europe is extremely worrying. Here, anti-americanism is becoming every day more a kind of racism. This poll is dramatic but unfortunately not unexpected if you consider the atmosphere we’re breathing in Old Old Old Europe. Jeff, you’re completely right. This stupidity is shocking.
    (Enzo – italian boy living in Spain).

  • allow me to chime in on this Soren:
    I don’t quite understand your distinctions:
    African Americans who believe in Vodoo are dumb.
    If X% of African Americans believe in Vodoo, then all African Americans are dumb as doorknobs.
    If X% of African Americans believe in Vodoo, then all Blacks are likely to use kleenex for brains.
    You’re telling me you’d get away with the first two statements? The first maybe, but not the second IMO.
    Apart from that, defining racism through explicit reference to a race exposes one to the problem that the notion of race is (AFAIK) somewhat disputed. AFAIK you can only really distinguish asian, caucasian and african “races”, so your “white europeans” would not be a racist comment. Now there are some firmly established terms for predjudices against large groups, such as anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism, but AFAIK anti-Germanism has not yet made it to that category and IMO Vasili can be pardoned for chosing a familiar term which indicates something similar instead of relying on an ill-defined, virtual neologism.
    That aside, he was talking about Jeff’s attitutde in general, which he infers from wherever. Assuming he’s right that Jeff is anti-Muslim, anti-French and anti-German could you please restate again why this is so unlike racism that -for want of a better word- he can’t resort to a familiar concept?
    Buy your criteria it seems “All blacks are dumb exept those in Borneo” is not racist.
    That aside, Jeff’s title:
    “Why that [sic] hate us? Because they’re incredibly stupid” is anti-German (unless “they” consistently refers to that third, though that is far from clear) especially considering its based on a poll. I guess he was just furious when typing this, so I don’t worry. Still, I wouldn’t want to have something like that escape me in a fit of rage, simply because it reflects poorly on me.

  • soren,
    look at jeff’s postings over the last months. ever since the day the governments of france, russia and germany decided to resist the plans for a war against iraq, he’s bashing those countries and its peoples whenever he mentions them. they we are cowardly, unthankful, dumb and so on. that’s not racist? what’s racism, if not holding whole peoples responsible for the behaviour of parts of them? i believe this is racism. if you don’t think so, use another word. we’re still talking about the same thing.
    thanks for your support. it really seems as if soren and i had different definitions of racism. i think anti-americanism is racism. i think anti-semitism ist racism. it’s not about biological or ethnical definitions of race.

  • Puce

    racet defanshin! all as racit!

  • h0mi

    I’m at a total loss as to why people would think that the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis. I’ve never seen anyone anywhere in the media make that claim so as to why people would arrive at that conclusion is beyond me. If people are jumping to that conclusion based upon a desire to wage war on Iraq, that’s evidence of some strange leaps in logic.
    I have, however, seen lots of innuendo and suggestions that Bush or his administration were (directly or not) responsible for 9/11. From negligence to “ordering” the attacks, the accusations cover a wide range of possibilities. But those are at least accusations that _exist_.

  • “Distrusting your own gouvernment” is fine. I would be glad if the Germans just did that.

  • they do.

  • Soren Ryherd

    Vasili and Marcus,
    I see your point, and to clarify, I don’t in *any* way think that anti-german statements are in some way okay or more acceptable than what I was defining as racist statements. I was only trying to separate by example what I viewed as racist from bigoted. Marcus, your examples based on African Americans didn’t work for me at all, but I see you thought I believed that there was a level of acceptability involved and were making a point on that basis.
    Overall, I reject pretty much any assumptions about any people, country, group, or race as a whole. They are made up of individuals and individuals will always run the gamut, which is why stereotypes are so dangerous.
    On the issue at hand I happen to agree that anyone, American, German, Sri Lankan, whatever, who feels the US might have masterminded the 9/11 attacks is a crack-smoking loon completely out of touch with how America actually works. But I wouldn’t extend the feeling to anyone other than the individuals who hold that opinion.
    And to respond to Homi, there seems to be a train of thought that any accusation is credible, simply because it is voiced. When I lived briefly in Cairo, there were many people who told me “You know, the Jews murdered Kennedy”. And I would respond “There isn’t a hint of evidence that that could be true, not a bit”. And every single person responded “Well, you don’t know that it’s not true”. And they somehow believed that made them right.
    This is a logic I don’t understand.

  • Zec

    They didn’t planned Perl Hearbor either but they allowed to happen. Maybe could be the same with 9.11. But we will never know. Never for sure. And just like Myles said most people think here in Europe that America is cool, but they are not sure for your governement because it was proven many times before that they lied. So, what, another lie. Nothing important exept to those 9.11 families. Ask them, I think many would love to hear more from the US government about these days. US tries to release only selective documents in the manner of damage control. But, oopss, they can’t nor could so soon cause many documents are classified by Mr. Bush with Executive orders(at least 12 more years) Research, research. But why ?. And Jeff, if I am German I would request for apology. Your rhetoric sounds racist and ofensive. Enough from me.

  • John Irving

    So vasili, what do you think about the possibility that the German government could have been behind the 9/11 attacks?

  • Soren Ryherd

    Zec, it is a popular myth that the U.S. gov’t intentionally allowed the Japanese attack on pearl harbor; a myth that has been widely discredited. Here is just one of the many, many web sites that present the actual evidence of events preceding the 12-7-1944 attack on Oahu:
    This is *exactly* the type of unsubstantiated accusation that gets repeated without examination until it is simply accepted. I find that dangerous because it reinforces sterotypes and beliefs that cause people to kill. Don’t believe me? “The U.S.’s goal is to eradicate Islam”. Not true, yet many people in the Islamic world accept this as ‘common knowledge’.

  • elspi

    Germany had a similar national tragedy. Their parliament was destroyed by a bomb, and almost all the representatives were killed. The Chancellor was “forced “ to declare a state of emergence and arrested all the obvious suspects. Anyone who questioned said Chancellor or his right to do such things was branded a traitor.
    Lessons can be over learned. Whenever we see something, we compare it to what we are familiar with. Bush benefited greatly from 911 and has used of 911 extensively in the political arena (rep. National convention for instance). This is reminiscent of Hitler’s use of the Reichstag’s fire. You cannot blame the Germans for seeing the obvious similarities and jumping to the obvious conclusion. (For those of you who slept through history, Hitler planted the bomb). It does of course still make more sense than the Americans who believe Sadam was behind 911. At least Bush benefited from 911. That is called motive.

  • Tim

    @Van Gale, FYI:
    The American President during German Unification was George Bush the older (and wiser, imho), not Reagan.
    And Miss Thatcher actually was the one leader of the four winning states most against the unification.